When you’ve spent four years studying a niche, like accounting or finance, it can be pretty crushing to realize that you need more for your resume to stand out. But ultimately, everyone applying for the jobs you’re looking at studied for four years too.

So, how can you put your best foot forward to get ahead of the competition? Read our tips below to help you stand out in a stack of resumes.

1. Get A Certification

This won’t be the first time you’ve heard this advice – and there’s a reason for that. Candidates with certifications are automatically more desirable than those without, and that’s because not only does the certification prove your knowledge in the area but it also proves your dedication to the industry in a way that a resume without it just cannot. It’s a fact that certifications take time to achieve, and the hiring manager knows that.

2. Network, Network, Network

When you’re college, you hear this from any career counsellor. We’re here to tell you that it’s true. Connections you make, and authentic business relationships can go a long way in making sure your resume is in front of the right people and not just another one in the pile. Our best advice on how to do this is by joining appropriate groups, like Beta Alpha Psi and even other Accounting or Finance groups on platforms like LinkedIn.

3. Build and Flex Soft Skills

Soft skills are critical to success in any role, whether it’s client facing or not. I mean, think about it – do you want to work with somebody who can’t manage their time or communicate with you when there’s a problem? Probably not. Hiring managers actually seek soft skills out when narrowing down applicants – we recommend you make this apparent on your resume in a bullet naming specific skills under your existing role. These skills could range from being “adaptable” to having good “time-management skills”.

4. Take Short Courses to Help Understand Areas Beneficial to Your Job

As the industry changes, and technology becomes more and more prevalent in the role, what hiring managers are looking for in a candidate will also change. By becoming proficient, or at least familiar, with these technologies and soft wares, your name will resonate in the hiring manager’s mind. We recommend starting your learning with Excel courses (like that included in Surgent CPA Review’s Ultimate Pass) and by watching webinars on data analytics, and other topics in your specific industry niche.

5. Follow Up

Think about it – every job application will receive dozens, if not hundreds, of applications. Hiring managers are swamped. So, we recommend that you follow up – whether by email, handwritten note or phone call, show your enthusiasm about this opportunity and remind them of your name. This should feel authentic, and genuine – this should not be a blast email that’s sent to every job you’ve applied to. Personalize it and try to explain why you’re interested and most importantly – what you can bring to their company.

Setting your resume apart from the rest is your best bet to getting hired. Ultimately, there will always be more applicants than there are positions for each job opening, and so taking these steps can help set you up for success. And if you don’t get the first job you apply for, there are always more applications to submit. Good luck on your search!